|Photo from catholicphilly.com|
The Catholic world was rocked this morning with the news of Pope Benedict's resignation..to take place at the end of this month. I woke up this morning...and immediately checked my email and got on Facebook first thing, Doesn't everyone start their day that way? And, that is when I first learned THE NEWS. Sadly, I get all my news from Facebook...without it, I would totally be in the dark. I was stunned....to say the least.
Pope John Paul II was the Pope during my formative Catholic years. I loved him...I really, really loved him and was very saddened by his death. Ben and I even named our pet cockatiel that we had when we first got married after him. We called him JPII for short. I didn't think I would love another Pope as much, but over time, I learned to love Pope Benedict. They called him a "Catholic Rottweiler" (or something like that), and he is tough. But, he is also gentle and clearly, very, very humble. For, it would take great humility to do what he is doing.
I will admit to at first feeling some fear and anxiety when I heard the news. After all, I am Anxiety Girl (able to leap to the worst possible conclusion in a single bound). Who will be the next Pope? What will happen to our church? Then I remembered this passage.
And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Matthew 16:18The gates of hell shall not prevail. Jesus promised us this...that he will always be with us and that hell shall not prevail. I know that whoever is chosen for the next Pope..the decision will be guided by the Holy Spirit.
We call the Pope our Holy Father. And, that he is...he guides us and teaches us. With humility and love and sometimes sternness as the occasion calls for it...he is our spiritual father. Parenting is hard work...so very, very hard. I have often said that for all the labor involved in caring for babies..I find babies to be way easier than older kids. Guiding and teaching and disciplining is exhausting. There are a million decisions to be made each day...and a million and one ways to second guess myself. Am I being too strict? Am, I being too lax? Am I expecting too little of my children? Am I expecting too much? Does this occasions/transgression call for justice or mercy or both and in what proportions? A parent's role is to protect and guide and teach and discipline his//her family. It's not an easy job.
How much more exhausting it must be to be the spiritual father for the entire Church? To be responsible for safeguarding the Church, to be her custodian and caretaker and to present the faith to the entire world. What a task to take on at the age of 78...when he probably wanted nothing more than to retire in peace and pray and write!!
So..to Pope Benedict...we all say thank you. Thank you for the past 7 1/2 years of service. Thank you for your love and humility and books and encyclicals and prayers and sacrifices. Thank you for your guidance and teaching. We love you.